Tag Archives: the middle east club

Taste of Iceland 2016

It’s time again for the annual Taste of Iceland event here in Boston.  The cultural event that brings a sampling of Icelandic culture to different cities around the United States every year.

Food, film, music and writing are all part of this year’s event.  For us music-minded folks there is a two-fer of sorts.  Along with the Reykjavik calling concert, they are also showing “Rokk I Reykjavik” at the Brattle theatre.

This year’s cuisine event will be held at The Merchant, a great little spot located in the finance district /downtown crossing area.  The Merchant’s chef Matt Foley will collaborate with Thrainn Freyr Vigfússon of LAVA, the Blue Lagoon restaurant in Iceland.  Learn more about the menu here, as with all of the events of Taste of Iceland, it’s highly recommended you reserve your spot sooner than later.

For the literature lovers and writers out there, I suggest you attend “The Write stuff” led by Eliza Reid, a co-founder of Iceland’s writers retreat.  On March 5th, 1:00-2:30pm she will go into the hows and whys of Iceland’s strong written word history at the Barnes and Noble in the Prudential Center.  Also, there will be a lot of great books written by Icelandic authors available for purchase, including Halldór Laxness, and Jon Gnarr.  Learn all about it here

For Film:

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Rokk í Reykjavik is playing at the Brattle Theater, March 6th at 3PM!  This documentary is one I suggest everyone watch.  It’s chock-full of music goodies and interviews and concert footage of a lot of classic Icelandic musicians.  You’ll see a lot of the folks you already know, and most likely, you’ll learn about new artists and bands you really should know.  Not only does Boston get treated to this documentary, but Sigtryggur Baldursson, A man who happens to have been in a lot of my favorite classic Icelandic bands including Sugarcubes, Kukl, and Þeyr, will be on hand afterward for a Q&A.  Here’s the band Þeyr doing “Rúdolf” from the Rokk í Reykjavik documentary: 

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And now, Reykjavik Calling. On March 5th at 8pm the annual concert at the Middle East will happen.  This concert combines both local Boston bands with Icelandic bands, typically the atmosphere is uplifting, and it feels like a giant party.  This year Boston locals Neme and Adam Ezra Group will play with Axel Flóvent and CeaseTone.  The Concert is free, and I suggest getting there early as it always fills to capacity quickly.

You can see photos of previous Reykjavik Calling’s here.

Nemes

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From Boston, Nemes is an indie folk-ish band, with high energy and excitability their charm comes in exciting crowds a mix of folk, country and rock.

Axel Flóvent

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In excellent contrast, Axel Flóvent from Iceland will be there.  Calming, mellow and harmonic music reminiscent of Nick Cave.  I’ve seen him live a few times up in Iceland, and it’s difficult not to get sucked into the music.  He’s one of the great new exports of the Island and it’s rare I find folks who dislike him.

the Adam Ezra Group

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Also from Boston, the Adam Ezra Group will be performing.  Boston is famous for large bands, groups of friends getting together to make great music.  Adam Ezra Group certainly fits the bill.  a great group of folks churning out good ole rock and roll.

CeaseTone

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And last, certainly not least CeaseTone will be here.  CeaseTone is just as much about guitars and rock as electronics, expertly combining the two creating great music.  Another band I’m looking forward to seeing here in Boston.

It’s going to be a great couple of days here in Boston.  I highly suggest you RSVP on Facebook or the Taste of Iceland website, as things fill up quickly and sell out every year.

I asked CeaseTone the standard 4 questions, and Hafsteinn Þráinsson was kind enough to answer:

  1.  What’s your favorite place in Iceland to play:  A place called Húrra!
  2. What is you or the band’s favorite color:  Deep Blue
  3. What are 3 of your favorite little known bands of Icelandic origin:  In The Company Of Men, Gangly, Muck and soo many others
  4. If you could be any creature playing your favorite song, what would the creature be? And what is the song:  Do you mean favorite song in general or with the band? If in general I’d like to be Yoda rapping “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe” by Kendrick Lamar.  If with the band I’d like to be Gandalf The White playing “Full circle”

See you there!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Reykjavik Calling

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And there it was, Saturday night.  Taste of Iceland’s Reykjavik Calling in Cambridge, MA at the Middle East Club.  Three Icelandic bands acting as ambassadors of music coming together with two local bands to bring Boston a cross-cultural event.  Reyka Vodka supplied the alcohol, and a slew of Icelandic sponsors all helped in the event.

Hermigervill, or as he became known; Hamburgurville,  started the show off with a high energy set.  The  crowd was instantly sucked in as he danced right along with his set.  He gave a shout out to Reykjavik’s Harlem bar, as well as delivering a hip hop version of “Glugginn” by the old peace loving Icelandic hippies, Flowers.  near the end he gave another nod to the Icelandic Reggae band Ojba Rasta with a remix of “Jolly Good.”  The man rocks a theremin like nobody’s business.

hermghostHermigervill always performs with an incredible amount of energy, bobbing in and out to and fro with such speed and vigor it’s tough to snag a clear pic.  He was dead center when I hit the clicker on the ole camera, but only his ghostly remains were captured, he’s that quick.

There was so much energy in the crowd and on stage, so nobody could fault him as he attempted to squeeze one more in.  Unfortunately the powers that be stepped in, and that was that.

Next up, Boston locals Skinny Bones played.  A drum, a Guitar and a little Moog creating a pleasant set of shoe gazing rock.

sinfangerSin FangSindri Már Sigfússon, was next.  The crowd was in for it, as Sindri gave us samples of new bits as well as reworkings of old bits, while some bits stayed the same.  He was joined on stage by Skinny Bones for a collaborative version of “Young Boys.”

Speaking with Sindri before the show, he mentioned we can expect new music from him shortly, and of course he’ll be touring in the future.

The Love Experiment was next.  Dance, funk, jazz, soul….  Too many styles to list, all wrapped up in almost an hour of jamming on stage.  There seemed to be a bit of freestyle jamming going on, especially once Joined by Unnsteinn Manuel Stefánsson and Logi Pedro Stefánsson of Retro Stefson.

3 out of 7 ain’t bad, and that’s what we got from the Retro Stefson camp.  Unnsteinn Manuel Stefánsson and Logi Pedro Stefánsson joined by Hermigervill came on stage, bringing the Retro Stefson unique dance style with them.  Perhaps the alcohol had been flowing a little too freely, or perhaps I was just in a good mood, but I really got into their set, though I will whole-heartedly deny any and all rumors of dancing…

allinallTo end the evening, all of the musicians came back on stage.  There were sax’s, guitars, theremins and synths.  A lot of singing and hanging out and of course, a cover of Lauren Hill’s “Ex Factor.”  Because, why not?!  Definitely a great way to end a great night.

I harassed Logi Pedro about Highlands, his new side project with Karin Sveinsdóttir.  They are working away and hope to have something early 2015.  They will be playing at Iceland Airwaves in November as well. He was nice enough to answer one of my questions:  What animal, what song?” to which he replied “a lion, singing wrecking ball by Mylie Cyrus.”

And finally, let it be known that after Hermigervill’s set, and much to the chagrin of all in my household, I will very shortly own a Theremin… it’s time

Taste of Iceland 2014 – Boston

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For my post on the Reykjavik Calling concert on May 15th.  Click here.

Taste of Iceland is coming back to Boston this week with food, art, and of course the free concert, Reykjavik Calling.  The event goes March 14th through the 18th, with Reykjavik Calling happening Saturday, March 15th.

Iceland Naturally has been putting Taste of Iceland on for 10 years.  A cooperative marketing outfit, Iceland Naturally promotes all things Icelandic and Taste of Iceland is their signature event.  Supported by a large community of Icelandic sponsors such as Icelandair, Icelandic Group, Islandsbanki, Reyka Vodka, City of Reykjavik, Icelandic Glacial Water, Blue Lagoon, Keflavik International Airport (KEF), Landsvirkjun, Promote Iceland, and the Government of Iceland, the event brings an Icelandic representation of cuisine, art, literature, and music to North America.

This year along with the concert at the Middle East Club, there is a Reyka vodka cocktail class at the Liberty Hotel, a Photography exhibit the 555 Gallery, and all event long you can sample Icelandic cuisine at Rialto.  Go here to read more about these events and RSVP as some events are limited.

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Every year Taste of Iceland delivers different artists from Iceland to North America for a concert called Reykjavik Calling.  The artists not only play their own material, but pair with local artists creating interesting collaborations.   They coordinate with local radio stations, in Boston’s case WERS, to pair the musicians and this year Boston will see The Love Experiment and Skinny Bones on stage.

In the past, acts such as Lay Low, Pétur BenSnorri Helgason and Sóley have all played.  And this year, Retro Stefson, Sin Fang and Hermigervill are playing.  All three musicians deserve their own write up, but as that would make for a rather long blog post I’ve just put a snippet and links to more.  If you click on their names it will take you to their Soundcloud pages, and I’ve embedded my favorite tracks available via Soundcloud above the artist.

Retro Stefson are a supergroup of sorts, they’ve grown and adapted over the years, but their live gigs still remain high energy and fun.  And while the members of the band have branched out into things of their own, they always come back together to entertain the masses.

Hermigervill, AKA Sveinbjörn Thorarensenis a remix master.  He has remixed quite a few of Iceland’s top artists, as well as creating original sounds.   His original work reminds me of the carefree and happy days of BS2000 and it’s enjoyable pretty much anywhere you’re listening to it.

I’ve written about Sin Fang before and every year I see him at Airwaves he’s running around mad playing as often as he can or selling artwork.  His new album, Flowers, justifiably has earned accolades across the globe, and I hear he’s been playing new material all over Reykjavik so I’m hoping he brings the new stuff down here.

The Concert is Saturday March 15th.  Doors are at 8pm, gig starts at 9.  It’s free so I suggest you show up earlier than later, and RSVP here.  This really is a powerhouse of Icelandic musicians, and the possible collaborations between the artists could make for quite the concert.  If you are into all things Icelandic I also suggest you follow Iceland Naturally on Facebook as they frequently keep you informed of Icelandic things that may be happening around where you live.

Taste of Iceland only gets to come to a select cities here in North America, so Bostonites, get out and enjoy what they have to offer.  For all the details, times, RSVP’s and dinner reservations, go here.

Hermigervill was ever so kind as to answer my 4 nonsensical questions:

1. What is your favorite off-venue Airwaves joint to jam at?  There are now so many off-venues at Iceland Airwaves, it’s hard to pick! Last year, Kex Hostel hosted a really good program, and I had a very memorable show there.

2. If you combine all of your favorite colors, what do you get?  I get a song. I see colours when I make music.

3. What are 3 of your favorite little known bands of Icelandic origin?   a) “Þú & Ég” was a great 70’s disco thing which was big here, but never made it out of the country, despite several attempts.  b) “Grísalappalísa” is a raw punky rock kind of band, which usually isn’t my cup of tea, but there is some special energy going on there, especially during their phenomenal live shows. I just did a remix for them which should be out soon.  c) “Highlands” is a new project consisting of my friend and bandmate Logi Pedro and singer Karin Sveinsdóttir. This will be big, that’s all I can say!

4. If you could be any creature playing your favorite song, what would the creature be? And what is the song?  Any kind of bird. I love birds, and spent my childhood summers on a remote island, in close proximity to arctic terns, puffins and eider ducks. This bird would probably be playing the Blade Runner soundtrack by Vangelis.